An audacious, darkly glittering novel about art, fame and ambition set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, from the author of three highly acclaimed previous novels.
One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theatre troupe known as the Travelling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains-this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame and the beauty of the world as we know it. – Goodreads
This book… this book. Where do I even start? I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into when I picked this beauty up. I idly flipped it open, thinking I’d read a few pages and probably not be that into it. I mean, how many dystopian books do we really need, anyway? But let me tell you, we need this one. This one kicks all the other post-apocalyptic stories directly in the posterior.
For starters, the first chapter is completely addictive. There is no putting this book down once you start reading, so don’t do it (like I did) on your lunch break. Because it will make you very, very late. The suspense, even when you know what’s coming, is so intense that the words won’t pile into your brain fast enough.You’ll be left wishing you could suck them up with a straw.
Which in itself would be enough to make anyone keep reading. I mean, you’d have to, because you literally cannot stop. But that’s not enough for St. John Mandel. She has to bring the deep, meaningful, realistic characters. She has to introduce you to them, draw you into their lives and make you care about them. She has to get you invested.
And you will be. Even though you know what’s coming. Even though you know how it ends (or even worse, keeps going) for them. You’ll be right there with them for every twist and turn.
This, my friends, is masterful writing. Creating characters that walk right off the page and bare their souls to you is not easy. Creating a plot – particularly one that bounces back and forth on a 20+ year timeline seamlessly without losing any of its thrust or momentum – is not easy. Finding hope in a destroyed world (they call it post-apocalytic and dystopian for a reason) is not easy. This book does it all – and does it all spectacularly. It’s rare to find a book that you want never to end, but whose ending is simultaneously so satisfying. There was very little in this book that didn’t deserve the highest praise.
Not to oversell it or anything.
PS: If you love The Walking Dead, give this one a try. Scenes from the show kept popping into my mind as I was reading and I found so much similarity in terms of both plot and character development. This does have a bit more background for characters and the action isn’t as intense (or gory), but the feel of it and the way it drew me in reminded me of the best parts of the show.
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Published By: HarperCollins Canada
Released: September 9, 2014
Genre: Fiction, Dystopia, Sci Fi
Date Read: September 27-October 2, 2014